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Digital Planning 101: Beginner tutorial with 2021 Digital Planner and GoodNotes 5 on iPad

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Digital Planning 101: Beginner tutorial with 2021 DIGITAL PLANNER and GoodNotes 5 on iPad

In this video I'm covering Digital Planning 101 - what digital planning is, what supplies you need and doing a walkthrough of one of my 2021 digital planners in GoodNotes 5 on my iPad. If you've always been a paper planner and you have questions, or you're a digital planner that let it slide in 2020 and you need a refresh, this video is for you!


Silicone Apple pencil tips:

Paperlike matte screen protector:

Digital planning apps I've used: GoodNotes (iOS only), Xodo

Digital planning apps you can also try*: Notability, ZoomNotes, OneNote, Metamoji Note, Noteshelf, *or search your app store for "pdf annotation" and make sure the app works with hyperlinks

2020 has been rough! I don't know about you, but I haven't used my planner since about February. If you're ready to get a fresh start for 2021 and learn about digital planning, stay tuned because I'm going to break it down… (if you prefer to follow along in the video you can do that HERE).

Let me know in the comments, are you a digital or paper planner? Are you ready to make the switch?

So, what is digital planning? Basically, we're just taking all the features that we know and love from our paper planners and sticking them in a digital format. You still have a cover. You still have tabs and calendars and flippable pages. You have digital stickers. You have spots where you can stick in a habit tracker or a mood tracker…all the things… but it's just in a digital format.

S,o what do you need to get started with digital planning? Well, you need a tablet of some sort. Now, I got started using a Samsung tablet, but now I’m using an iPad, so, you can definitely use either. I think a lot of people in digital planning say, "Oh, you need an iPad." You absolutely don't have to. You just basically need some form of tablet that will let you use a stylus.

The other thing is I'm using an Apple pencil because now I have an iPad, but previously I was using a Samsung tablet that came with a stylus. The main thing is that you need to have a stylus that lets you actually write like a pencil, not just the plain capacitive stylus. So that's kind of the difference there.

Once you have your tablet and your stylus, then you're going to need an app that lets you work with the digital planners. A digital planner is basically just an interactive PDF. So, you need an app that will let you annotate - or write on it - and use links. For the iPad, the best app, by far, to do this with is GoodNotes - I'm using GoodNotes 5. For Android the one that I used when I was on my Samsung tablet was Xodo. I know there are plenty of other apps out there that you can try.

A couple of optional accessories can use to make the experience a little bit better are some kind of a matte screen protector - Paperlike is the one that I've heard the best things about. I don't use it myself because I use my tablet for multiple things, not just for digital planning, and I just didn't like the look of the matte screen all the time. So, if I'm watching movies or something, it kind of dulls it down a little bit. But if you're using your tablet for mainly planning, I think it is a great way to go because it definitely makes the writing experience a lot better. It makes it feel, more like you're using your paper planner and makes your handwriting better, all of those things.

As an alternative, if you don't want to have a matte screen protector, but you do want to improve your writing and the feel of using your digital planner, you can, for the Apple pencil at least, get silicone tips. You can get a set of them on Amazon. I think it's eight or 10 of them for like seven bucks. These definitely help me write better on my regular glass screen protector.

What are some of the benefits of digital planning? Let's talk about that real quick before we do our walkthrough. The main benefit that I see, and one of the reasons I switched from paper planning to digital, is how customizable they are.

It's really hard with a paper planner to get one that's just the way you want it, just the way you like it. With a digital planner, you can find one that's pretty close and then you can always add things to it. You can add pages, you can add inserts, you can use whatever colors you want, all those kinds of things. It's SUPER customizable. And that's one thing that I really, really love!

Along the same lines, with a digital planner, you can erase your mistakes, which is definitely something that I find myself doing constantly! The undo button is one of my best friends.

Digital planners are also super portable, lightweight, thin - basically whatever your tablet is, you can take it with you anywhere. You can also view your planner on your phone. Probably harder to use it on your phone depending on the size, but it is nice to have something that's viewable, no matter where you go.

And last but not least, because we are considering the planet here, digital planners are just more eco-friendly than getting a whole new paper planner every year.

*** This next section is the transcription of the video walkthrough of my 2021 planner video. It probably won’t make a lot of sense without the visuals. Click HERE to view the video and go to the timestamp at 5:15 ***

Welcome to the walkthrough of my 2021 digital planner. This is the main one we're going to walk through today. It's a purple and gold theme or color palette. I also have another one in my shop that is more of a mint and coral color palette. So, if that is more of your style, that one is available as well. (NOTE: I’ve added additional planners since this video was made!). We're going to walk through this one today. Here’s the main cover page. You can, of course, add your name in here. I’m not going to do a full GoodNotes walkthrough today, which is the program that I'm using. There's already a lot of those on YouTube, but if that is something you'd like to see on my channel, please let me know in the comments down below, and I would be happy to do that walkthrough as well in a separate video. From the main cover page, we're going to slide over to the HOME tab here.

All of the tabs in my planner are linked to actual section dividers. So, you're going to see the pretty divider, a little bit of information about that section, and then the contents in the CALENDAR section. We have the Year at a Glance here, some holidays and important dates. All of the months here do link out to the monthly spreads. This is January. You have a section here for notes. All of the weeks are going to link out on these little arrows here to a weekly spread. You have a section for your daily schedule and appointments, water tracking, as well as notes and a task list. And you have a BACK button right here to take you back to the monthly spread. In the paper and template section here at the very end, when we get there, there is a Daily spread. If that's something that you would prefer to use, and you can just add that in.

After the CALENDAR, we have a HABITS section. We have a blank habit tracker here, and you can then fill in anything that you would like to track. Then you can check it off. You can use stickers, you can use colors, anything that works for you, and will keep you motivated. This one is blank with 31 days, so you can use it on any month of the year. Obviously, any month that has less than 31 days, you just won't use those columns.

Next, we have a MOOD TRACKER section. Here is a little bit of info on mood tracking. I've included two free mood trackers in this planner for you, a ladybug and a pineapple. And this is basically how mine are designed to work. You can write in it down here the emotions that you want to track, and you add a color swatch above them. Then for each month, there are 31 sections, no matter what the image is, and you just color in that day, how you're feeling. And, of course, you can mix if you have kind of a split day. Then at the end of the month, you have a nice visual overview of how you're feeling that month. You can buy additional versions of these in my shop or other places online, and then just insert them on a blank page.

The next section here is THANKS, and this is your gratitude log. Basically, it's a mason jar that you can fill up every month. It's really nice to write in this every day and get in the habit of being thankful. You can write in here with different colors. You can add pictures, anything that will help you remember things that you're grateful for, especially in 2020 and going into 2021, it's going to be really nice to remember things that are positive in our lives.

The next section is called SPECIAL, and this is special occasions. This is a place to keep everyone's birthdays and anniversaries all right in one spot.

Next, I have a MEDICAL tracker. This is a custom one that I created for me because I couldn't find one that was out there that had all the pieces that I wanted in one tracker. For the top here, for pain, stress or fatigue, I'm just going to do kind of a dot grid and track that throughout the month. You can track your sleep, your vitamins, your exercise, hydration, anxiety, and caffeine. And down here, there are nine spots where you can track custom symptoms and you can use whatever scale or method works for you. So, if you have an ongoing medical condition that you need to track, this is a really nice place where every month you can keep all of your information together for doctor's visits.

Next, we have the PAPER AND TEMPLATES section. We have some paper. This one is completely blank. The next couple of pages, it's kind of hard to see, but these actually have a little bit of real paper-like textures on them. So, if that's something that you'd like for journaling or anything, those are available. We have lined paper, graph, paper and dotted paper. And here's that Daily spread I was telling you about. There's a journal section, notes, goals, task list, meal, planning, and water tracking. As far as inserting this or any pages in your planner, it's really going to depend on the app that you're using. So just be mindful. It's usually best to copy and paste rather than moving pages around, so you don't break any of the links that are. And then I have blank copies here of all the other trackers, of course.

The last tab here is actually blank. And this is going to go to a custom section, so you can use this for anything you'd like - meal planning, finances, journaling, whatever. And you can add in additional pages here.

Down the right-hand side, here are all of the months. And at the very bottom we have stickers. The purchase of my planner comes with both the GoodNotes and the regular PDF versions. For GoodNotes, these stickers are all pre-cropped and loaded in the planner for you. So, you can just use them right away. For other apps, you would use the PDF planner and then there's a zip file of stickers. And those are all pre-cropped PNG files with a transparent background. It's a little bit hard to tell on the colors here, but these ones are kind of a gray tone and these ones are brown. They're nice and neutral. And will go with just about anything. And then we have all of these words here as well.

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